Companies held to account by water regulator

Media release | 3 July 2020

The state’s water regulator is holding two companies to account in separate prosecutions for alleged breaches of the Water Management Act 2000.

A macadamia nut nursery company, its manager and the property owner from the Ballina area received a total of $16,000 in fines for breaches of the NSW water laws in Ballina Local Court yesterday.

In a case brought by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), the company pleaded guilty to two alleged breaches of section 60A(2) of the Water Management Act 2000 for taking water without an access licence, and two alleged breaches of section 91B(2) for using a pump, tank and pipes to take and use water without a water supply work approval. The company received a fine of $10,000 and was ordered to pay legal costs of $7,000.

The breaches took place between June 2016 and July 2018.

The property owner pleaded guilty to one alleged breach of section 60A(2) of the Water Management Act 2000 for taking water without an access licence which covered several alleged instances. The property owner received a fine of $1,000 and was ordered to pay court costs of $2,000.

The manager of the business pleaded guilty to one alleged breach of section 60A(2) of the Water Management Act 2000 for taking water without an access licence and one alleged breach of section 91B(2) for using a pump, tank and pipes to take and use water without a water supply work approval. The manager received a fine of $5,000 and was ordered to pay legal costs of $3,000.

A company from Lithgow operating a property in the Narrabri Shire Council area is the subject of another prosecution by NRAR, this time in the Land and Environment Court. The company has been charged with an alleged breach of section 60C of the Water Management Act 2000 - taking water for which they did not have an allocation.

The company is also the subject of separate proceedings begun at an earlier date for alleged breaches of section 91I of the Act, regarding bores on its property.

NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said the public had higher expectations of companies than of individuals.

“Companies should have adequate systems in place to comply with the law; the community expects nothing less,” he said.

“It is critical for the integrity of the state’s water management system that users of water hold licences and approvals, as failure to do so can harm other water users and the environment.”

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000. NRAR officers follow all NSW Health COVID-19 guidelines when making site visits.

To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar. Go to ‘Reports and data’, then ‘NRAR Public Register’.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au. For more information about NRAR and what it does, visit industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar